Friday, 14 January 2011

Pearson, Allison "I Don't Know How She Does It"

Pearson, Allison "I Don't Know How She Does It: The Life of Kate Reddy, Working Mother" (Working Mum) - 2002

This book wasn't at all what I expected it to be. It had been suggested by one of our book club members who had been a working mum herself for quite a while. So I thought it would be a book that discusses the problems these mothers have and maybe suggest some solutions for the average working mum.

Instead, I found it was a chick lit disguised as faction. The average mum I know does not work in a managerial position and can afford a cleaning lady (or whatever the PC word for it is now) and an au pair girl etc. I have read similar books and they are all the same. The women are doctors, lawyers, etc. and have all the help they can get. And then they worry about the cake they contribute to the school fayre or something else. Sorry, I cannot pity them.

When I lived in England, I knew working mothers who would drop off their children at school (often after having dropped off another one at playgroup) and stay for half an hour to read with the kids, then move on to their workplace only to come rushing back shortly before three to pick them up again, go shopping etc., do the homework with the kids, clean the house, do the washing, cook dinner until the husband comes home. They didn't have time to complain (let alone write a book about their problems).

We discussed this in our book club in January 2006.

They made this into a movie in 2011. So, the big question is, do I or don't I - watch it?

Not to compare with Esther Vilar's "The Manipulated Man".

From the back cover: "Delightfully smart and heartbreakingly poignant, Allison Pearson’s smash debut novel has exploded onto bestseller lists as 'The national anthem for working mothers.' Hedge-fund manager, wife, and mother of two, Kate Reddy manages to juggle nine currencies in five time zones and keep in step with the Teletubbies. But when she finds herself awake at 1:37 a.m. in a panic over the need to produce a homemade pie for her daughter’s school, she has to admit her life has become unrecognizable. With panache, wisdom, and uproarious wit, I Don’t Know How She Does It brilliantly dramatizes the dilemma of every working mom."


  1. Agree with your assessment. I've been a working mother. It worked well for me, but I was realistic about the possibilities. I was fortunate I didn't absolutely 'have' to work.

    My only issue is with those who work by CHOICE, and then talk constantly about needing 'time for themselves.' We'd all love that, but the truth is, when we choose to work (as in pursue a career) AND be mothers, we are wanting it all, and that's just selfish. There has to be sacrifice, and sadly, many mums sacrifice their spare time to things other than being with their kids. They dont' seem to get a simple pleasure from just 'being' with the kids either, it always had to be structured around a cinema trip or school event. I knew so many mums with high-flying careers who had loads of house-help, and spent most of their 'spare' time socialising or working out at the gym.

    For me at least, 'girls drinks nights' weren't an option if I hadn't seen my kids all day. We always included the kids whenever we had people over for meals, etc. And it's no cliche that the closest moments involved doing simple everyday things together, and not saying "hurry up!"

  2. That's exactly my point, I see we agree. I cannot judge someone who works or doesn't work if I don't know their background. Even then, I wouldn't judge them and this is exactly what happened here. She judges every woman who doesn't work because in her eyes it's possible to do both. Yes, if you have staff who take over your job at home while you're out in the world "finding yourself". Most women don't really have a choice, either they have to work for the money or they cannot work because childcare gets too expensive.

    I loved being with my children when they were little and I still enjoy being there for them if they need me. But I know I have been extremely blessed that I could choose this way of life, that I didn't have to work in order to feed the family.